The United Kingdom is one of the countries that’s profiled in the Global Coach Center Academy within the course “Living and Working in the UK”. In this post we interview one of the course’s co-trainers on some of the most interesting tidbits on the UK.
Louise Wiles is from England, thinks of herself as British but has been living abroad for much of the last fifteen years. Currently she lives in Lisbon with her husband and two daughters. From there she runs her business Success Abroad Coaching, providing support for accompanying partners during their relocation process; helping them to create successful portable lives and careers abroad.
Global Coach Center Blog (GCC Blog): What would be 1 to 3 tips you’d give to someone who is moving to the UK?
1. Recognise the diversity:
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is made up of four distinct countries and it is important to remember this. People from Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland are proud of their national identities and cultural origins which differ from those of the English. Remember, people who live in the UK are not all English!
In addition to this cultural mix two hundred different nationalities are represented in the UK with over ten percent of the population having been born outside of the UK. The extent to which visitors are exposed to this cultural mix will depend on where they are located in the UK. However once you move into the smaller cities, towns and rural areas you will find the population less diverse in its origin and more identifiably British.
2. Reserved but not unfriendly:
Generally people from the Southern England are said to be more reserved and less friendly than those from Northern England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. As a big “softie southerner myself” (softie because life is said to be easier in the south) I take exception to this but grudgingly admit it holds some truth.
As an individualistic culture, the British especially the English can seem very self orientated and not overly friendly. People often have a wide number of acquaintances and a small number of very close friends. Bear this in mind – people will be happy to chat, go out for drinks after work but beyond this it may take time for them to include you in their more immediate circle of friends and home life.
Ah yes, the great British sense of humour and it is hugely refreshing for us Brits, but often simply puzzling for foreigners. We are a nation that can and does enjoy laughing at ourselves. We take ourselves quite lightly and sarcasm is a regular work place feature. Intense situations may be lightened by a bit of humour, which can seem wholly inappropriate to the foreigner.
The main language spoken in the UK is English, although sometimes you may be hard-pressed to recognise it as such! There are big regional differences from the perspective of accent and colloquial phrases. You will be challenged as you learn English especially if you travel the country widely. However, sadly Brits speak very few other languages fluently and so if you want to survive and thrive in the UK you must learn to speak English well.
GCC Blog: What do you love about the UK?
Louise: I love the beautiful UK countryside, the pubs, the friendliness (generally), the humour, the entertainment options, the shopping, the food (yes really!), the summer sporting events and sometimes the weather.
GCC Blog: What do you dislike about living in the UK?
Louise: Lets start with the obvious – the weather! Having just been in the UK for a week and having had three days of solid rain I have been reminded about how restricting and frustrating the UK weather can be. However the rain is what makes the UK countryside so green and beautiful, so of course there is an upside!
Traffic jams and congestion on the roads and railways making long and tedious commutes is one of the more unattractive aspects of life especially around London and other major cities. Expense is another life in the UK does not come cheaply. Be prepared, do your research carefully and plan for a high cost of living.
GCC Blog: What’s the most popular proverb and why?
Louise: I don’t know what the most popular proverb is statistically but a favourite one from my childhood:
“A Stitch in time saves nine”
Meaning that acting early can save a lot of time later on.
GCC blog: How can the “Living and Working in the UK” course can help expats?
Louise: I am delighted to have worked together with the Global Coach Center to create this Living and Working in the UK programme. My expatriate experience, my background as a trainer and coach and my in-depth knowledge of the UK, together with Margarita’s unique system to crossing cultures has created a valuable guide to overcoming cross cultural challenges and building a successful life in the UK – please visit the course’s information page for more details!